On Thursday, March 3, the Recycling and Composting Accountability Act (RCAA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and John Boozman, R-Ark. RCAA would direct EPA to collect recycling and composting data in all 50 states including materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and curbside collection programs. “It’s important to understand how successful the different recycling programs are before making policy decisions,” explains Billy Johnson, ISRI’s chief lobbyist. “Collecting data on recycling and composting programs around the country will help legislators get the information they need to make good policy decisions.”
Beyond those actions, this bill tackles a vital issue for the recycling industry that no recycling legislation has done before. This bill would lay out ISRI’s definitions of recycling, recyclable materials, and processing. “These terms have never been properly defined in a law or regulation before,” Johnson says. “It’s because different groups use and define these terms in different ways, and lot of different industries uses these terms. We hope this bill will change that.”
Tasked with establishing definitions that work for all recyclers, ISRI brought together members from each commodity to determine definitions that applied to everyone. Though it took a lot of work, time, and dedication, in the end these definitions were able to find a home in the text of the bill.
“We were able to work these definitions into the bill and that’s a big deal,” Johnson says. “Think about it, when you’re writing a bill like that that concerns recycling and composting, the first thing you need to do is explain recycling. So, what is it? Well, it’s about processing materials, but then you need to take a step back and define processing. Okay, you’ve done that, but what are you processing? Now you need to define what recyclable materials are. These terms are very important to make a bill work, and we were able to get proper definitions of these terms in this legislation.”
Now that the bill has been introduced, ISRI intends to keep an eye on how it move forward and keep members updated accordingly.